• Rash Judgments

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    Rash Judgments

    “How displeasing to God are rash judgments! The judgments of the
    children of men are rash because they usurp the office of Our Lord,
    the just Judge. They are rash because the principal malice of sin
    depends on the intention and the counsel of the heart, and these are
    hidden things not known to human judges. They are rash because every
    person has things that could be judged, and, indeed, on which one
    should judge oneself. On the cross our Savior could not entirely
    excuse the sin of those who crucified him, but he extenuated the
    malice by pleading their ignorance. When we cannot excuse a sin, let
    us at least make it worthy of compassion by attributing the most
    favorable cause we can to it, such as ignorance or weakness. We can
    never pass judgment on our neighbor.”
    --Saint Francis de Sales

    January 9th - St. Marciana

    At the end of the 3rd century in Rusuccur, a small city in Mauritania,
    Algeria, there lived a young lady called Marciana, as pious as she was beautiful. While very young, she consecrated her virginity to God, and abandoned everything to live in a cave near that Roman city.

    One day, certainly moved by some divine inspiration, she left her cell
    to walk among the agitated and restless multitude of that city, for
    this was the time of the bloody persecution of Christians made by
    Diocletian throughout the Roman Empire.

    Entering the city by the Tipasia door, Marciana saw a marble statue of
    the goddess Diana in the middle of a square. At its feet flowed clear
    waters in a pool also made of marble. The brave virgin could not bear
    the sight of that impure idol. She stepped forward and threw the idol
    from its base, broke its head and smashed the entire statue into

    A furious mob dragged her to the Pretorium before an imperial
    magistrate. The Christian virgin laughed at the stone and wood gods,
    and glorified the true God she adored. In loud, eloquent words, she
    praised Him there in the Pretorium. The pagan judge handed her over to
    the gladiators to be infamously abused at their pleasure. Marciana
    remained fearless and serene. For three hours the gladiators were
    rendered immobile by an unknown terror, and were unable to touch the
    virgin. Through her prayers one of them converted and professed Jesus
    Christ as the true God.

    Confused by this development of events, the judge remained firm in his
    hatred. Unable to dishonor the virgin, he condemned her to be torn to
    pieces by wild beasts. When the hour arrived, she entered the arena as
    to a joyful feast, giving praise and thanks to Jesus Christ. She was
    tied to a stake and a lion was set upon her. The beast, however,
    approached her, touched her with its claws, and then retired as though
    moved by a stronger force.

    In admiration, the populace called out loudly demanding that she be
    set free. But a group of Jews who were part of the multitude, always
    thirsty for Christian blood, changed the mood of the crowd by calling
    for a wild bull. The beast gored the breast of Marciana opening a
    terrible wound. The blood poured out and St. Marciana fell to the sand
    in agony. Servants removed her from the arena, stopped the
    hemorrhaging, and nurtured what little life remained to her.

    The judge, however, called for her to be tied to the stake again. She
    raised her eyes to Heaven, a smile illuminating her face marked by
    suffering, and spoke her last words:

      O Christ, I adore and love Thee. Thou wert with me in the prison and
    kept me pure. Now Thou dost call me--O my Divine Master--and I go
    happily to Thee. Receive my soul.

    After she spoke these words, a ferocious leopard tore her apart,
    opening the road of Heaven to her.

    Comments of the late Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira: (died 1995)

    It is a most beautiful selection that deserves some comments from a
    perspective different from the first that appears.

    What we see at first sight is the spectacle of an extraordinary,
    startling and miraculous heroism. Marciana was a hermit near a small
    city in Africa during a time when Northern Africa was made up of Roman
    colonies as Latinized as Eastern Europe. St. Marciana, as the name
    indicates, was probably a Latin young woman. One day, touched by the
    grace, she went to the city. She came across a statue of Diane,
    goddess of the hunt, placed over a fountain in a public square. She
    was overcome by a just ire against that idol, a symbol affirming a
    religion opposed to the religion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    In this episode, St. Marciana revealed a strength that is not natural.
    The selection presents her as gracious and beautiful, which normally
    supposes fragility in a woman. But she became strong enough to push
    the idol from its base, separate the head from the body, and smash the
    entire statue to pieces.

    From a Roman point of view, this was a great crime. For a pagan, a
    statue is not only a representation of the god, but the god itself.
    They imagine the god is inside the idol, which is why they are called idolaters.

    So, filled with a beautiful epic spirit, she pushed the idol to the
    ground. The fragile, young, and recollected hermit went to the city to accomplish a task that strong Catholic men did not have courage to do:
    she broke the idol into pieces.

    Then, she stood before the tyrannical magistrate who, on behalf of
    Emperor Diocletian, was condemning all Catholics to death. She faced
    death with serenity. Here also she gave a demonstration of the
    strength of God.

    Next, the magistrate handed her over to the gladiators, persons of the
    lowest level, to abuse her as they so desired. Something truly
    incredible happened. She loved virginity above all else on earth, yet
    she remained serene in that distressing situation. For three hours
    those men strong enough to do whatever they liked were rendered
    immobile and could not approach her. A mysterious force prevented
    them. One of these gladiators converted, confirming the supernatural
    presence of God.

    Then, the judge condemned her to be killed by wild beasts in the
    arena. A lion approached her, but only touched her and then walked
    away. It was yet another intervention of God. The populace felt this
    and called for clemency. But the Jews, always experts in maneuvering
    public opinion, created an agitation that moved the fickle crowd from
    clemency to anticipation for another spectacle. They called for a bull
    to enter the arena against her.

    What pagan ferocity did not achieve, Jewish perfidy managed to do. God
    defended St. Marciana against the former; He did not defend her
    against the Jews. With a strong blow the bull gored her. The purple
    blood of that maiden gushed abundantly from the wound. Some tried to
    save her, but to no avail; a leopard was released and it killed her.
    She died joyfully, calling out the name of God Our Lord and announcing
    her entrance into Heaven.

    This is what one sees at first glance in the episode.

    Deepening the analysis....snip

    See more at:

    Saint Quote:
    If you have the courage to imitate Mary Magdalene in her sins, have
    the courage to imitate her penance!
    --St. Padre Pio

    Bible Quote:
    No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God abides in us and
    His love is perfected in us.  (1 John 4-12)

    The fruit of the cross

    How precious the gift of the cross, how splendid to contemplate!
    In the cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of
    paradise: it is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste.
    The fruit of this tree is not death but life, not darkness but light.
    This tree does not cast us out of paradise, but opens the way for
    our return.
    --Theodore of Studios

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